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National academies' gulf research program awards $2.1 million in synthesis grants

December 15, 2016

WASHINGTON - The Gulf Research Program (GRP) of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine announced today the recipients of three synthesis grants, totaling over $2.1 million. The grants support projects that apply scientific synthesis to connect environmental, social, and/or health data to advance understanding of the short- and long-term impacts of offshore oil and gas operations on human communities in coastal regions adjacent to the U.S. outer continental shelf. The grants also advance study design, tools, models and technologies for assessing human exposure to environmental contaminants, including acute or chronic exposures related to oil spills and other sudden and large-scale environmental disasters, and related impacts on individuals and populations.

"We're pleased to support innovative scientific syntheses that can help us better understand the interdisciplinary challenges coastal communities face," said Evonne Tang, GRP's director of external funding opportunities. "The new tools and products that the project teams develop would make existing data usable for stakeholders and decision makers." The proposals were selected after an external peer-review process. These awards are part of a broad portfolio of GRP funding opportunities outlined at http://www.national-academies.org/gulf/grants.

Listed in alphabetical order by principal investigator, the award recipients and their research topics are:

Project Director: So-Min Cheong, Ph.D., University of Kansas
Larry B. Crowder, Ph.D., and Jacob Model, Stanford University
Kristi Lewis, Ph.D., St. Mary's University

Community cohesion and recovery after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill - $590,000

This team of researchers plans to use environmental, social, and economic data to examine how coastal communities' abilities to self-organize and mobilize helped them respond to and recover from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. They will investigate the social-ecological drivers of community-level spill response and the role of nonprofit organizations and nonprofit networks in enhancing community cohesion after the spill. The researchers will generate outputs that scientists, nonprofits, and government stakeholders can use to help communities respond to and recover from oil spills more effectively.

Project Director: Molly McCammon, Alaska Ocean Observing System
Rob Bochenek, Axiom Data Science
Stephen R. Braund, M.A., Stephen R. Braund & Associates

Synthesizing ship tracking data, oil spill model results, and subsistence use information into a unique, interactive tool to aid research and planning in coastal communities bordering the Alaska Beaufort Sea - $530,000

The project team plans to develop an interactive, web-based mapping tool for planners, public and private stakeholders, and community members who rely on subsistence resources in Northern Alaska. This tool will integrate data products that describe vessel traffic patterns, estimated oil spill impacts, and subsistence use patterns for coastal communities along the Beaufort Sea. It is intended to help stakeholders understand how increased vessel traffic or an oil spill could affect different subsistence activities by comparing vessel track and spill impact density maps with newly available subsistence mapping and species distribution data. This tool could help decision makers and stakeholders in the Beaufort Sea area identify which subsistence use areas are particularly vulnerable to increased shipping activities and potential oil spills. A team of resource and community managers who are potential users of the tool will help guide its development. The final tool will have potential utility in other regions of the U.S. outer continental shelf that are experiencing some form of offshore oil development.

Project Director: Steven Murawski, Ph.D., University of South Florida
Claire B. Paris, Ph.D., University of Miami
James N. Sanchirico, Ph.D., University of California, Davis

Understanding oil spill impacts on fishing communities of the Gulf of Mexico: From Deepwater Horizon to future spill scenarios - $1,000,000

The project team plans to synthesize data to explore and quantify how oil spills like Deepwater Horizon affect fishing communities. This work includes both understanding how spills impact communities' economic, ecological, and social systems -- and modeling how these systems could be affected by future spills. Using high-resolution, fishery-dependent datasets, the team will identify how individual communities were affected by the Deepwater Horizon spill. Econometric and hydrodynamic modeling studies will be used to predict such impacts from future potential spills. Working with key fisheries stakeholders and local decision makers, the team plans to identify adaptive strategies that communities could use to mitigate future oil spills' effects. This project has the potential to transform disaster planning and fisheries management responses to such disasters in the Gulf of Mexico and elsewhere.

The Gulf Research Program of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine was established in 2013 as a result of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. It seeks to improve understanding of the interconnecting human, environmental, and energy systems of the Gulf of Mexico and other U.S. outer continental shelf areas. The program funds studies, projects, and other activities using three broad approaches: research and development, education and training, and environmental monitoring. To learn more about the Gulf Research Program, including grants and other funding opportunities, visit http://www.national-academies.org/gulf. Information about the 2016 synthesis grants awardees is available at http://www.national-academies.org/gulf/grants/synthesisgrants/synthesis-grants-2016-awardees/index.htm.

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine are private, nonprofit institutions that provide independent, objective analysis and advice to the nation to solve complex problems and inform public policy decisions related to science, technology, and medicine. The Academies operate under an 1863 congressional charter to the National Academy of Sciences, signed by President Lincoln. For more information, visit http://www.national-academies.org.
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